Paul Richardson, winner of 50-50 balls, demon of speed, hero of the fallen, was one of the most dominant players in Colorado Buffaloes history. Now in his fourth season with the Seattle Seahawks, many in sports media expect him to break out in 2017.
From 2010 to 2013, Richardson was one of the few brights spots of some atrocious Colorado teams. P-Rich only celebrated 8 victories in his three seasons on campus — he missed 2012 with a torn ACL — but that didn’t stop him from becoming a fan favorite and announcing his name to the rest of college football.
As a sophomore in 2011, he broke a single-game CU record with 284 receiving yards against Cal (the Buffs lost in overtime, btw), and with that, he was momentarily the NCAA leader in receiving yards for a couple weeks. As a junior in 2013, he destroyed everything as he had 84 catches for 1350 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named First Team All-Pac-12, but for reasons that I will never understand, he wasn’t even a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
For video evidence, look no further than this reel that includes Connor Wood playing quarterback, Richardson embarrassing his cousin, Shaquille, who had to defend him when CU played Arizona, and myriad spectacular plays (skip ahead to 1:30):
After his junior year, Richardson made the wise decision to leave for the NFL. His production combined with impressive combine results — he had a 4.40-second 40-yard dash and 38-inch vertical — saw him rise up draft boards, where the Seahawks picked him 45th overall in the 2nd round. That draft was the Year of the Receiver, a draft class that included Allen Robinson, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry and Martavis Bryant, and those were just the players drafted after Richardson.
In his first few years with the Seahawks, Richardson struggled with injuries — he re-tore his ACL in 2014 and missed Seattle’s Super Bowl victory — but he when he was on the field, he retained his knack for the spectacular. Richardson became something of an internet folk hero as he contributed a slew of highlight-reel plays, most notably during his tour de force against the Detroit Lions in the 2017 Playoffs.
Now in his fourth season in the NFL, the Seahawks are ready to see what he can do. They traded No. 2 receiver Jermaine Kearse and will now rely on Richardson in that capacity. If Richardson can stay healthy, there’s a strong chance that with his speed and ridiculous hands, he can breakout and be a game-changer for the Seattle offense.
Robert Mays of The Ringer ranked the Seahawks third best in the NFL in his in-depth season preview. For the Seahawks’ breakout player, which Mays predicts for each team, he wrote in a familiar name:
Breakout player: Wide receiver Paul Richardson. Like many of his brethren on the Seahawks offense, Richardson couldn’t stay healthy for the early part of his career. When he was consistently on the field late last fall, though, he made absurd catches every week. The fourth-year wideout will get his share of targets with Kearse on the Jets. I hope the internet is ready.
Over on SB Nation, former NFL defensive end Stephen White wrote an article titled, “Why Paul Richardson is the Seahawks’ breakout player this season.” From that article, White wrote about Richardson’s speed, effort, improvement and opporunity.
Richardson carried his strong play from last season over to this preseason and in the first game he looked fantastic in limited work. . . . Richardson is going to ball regardless of whether he starts of not. If he does start I expect his numbers to skyrocket this season. And two years removed from a torn ACL, I'm expecting him to be as fast as he has ever been, or faster.
If those in sports media can agree on something, it’s that health permitting, Paul Richardson will break out in 2017.